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The Military United States Politics

US To Deploy Ballistic Missile Interceptors In Response To North Korean Threats 266

Posted by Soulskill
from the where-art-thou-star-wars dept.
New submitter dcmcilrath sends this quote from the NY Times: "The Pentagon will spend $1 billion to deploy additional ballistic missile interceptors along the Pacific Coast to counter the growing reach of North Korea's weapons, a decision accelerated by Pyongyang's recent belligerence and indications that Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, is resisting China's efforts to restrain him. ... The missiles have a mixed record in testing, hitting dummy targets just 50 percent of the time, but officials said Friday’s announcement was intended not merely to present a credible deterrence to the North’s limited intercontinental ballistic missile arsenal. They said it is also meant to show South Korea and Japan that the United States is willing to commit resources to deterring the North and, at the same time, warn Beijing that it must restrain its ally or face an expanding American military focus on Asia."
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US To Deploy Ballistic Missile Interceptors In Response To North Korean Threats

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  • What a farce (Score:3, Insightful)

    by imikem (767509) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @12:50PM (#43191701) Homepage

    I believe this problem would largely go away if the media just stopped covering North Korea's every temper tantrum. An exception would be The Onion and maybe Colbert, but even that might be enough to reinforce their "Terrible Twos" sort of behavior. I do give some credit to the administration for ceasing to play the stupid game that has been going on since the early 90s:

    1. Provocation
    2. Talk
    3. Cough up food aid or the like
    4. Promise to be nice
    5. Lather, rinse, repeat

    • a child with nuclear weapons throwing a tantrum is

      they are dangerous. and so people are interested, and for good reason, so the press covers them

      anyone who doesn't understand that is buried in ignorant false complacency

    • by tangent3 (449222)

      Too bad censoring the media isn't a solution the average slashdotter will put up with....

    • Until they cracked the atom a few times, we mostly ignored them They have become much harder to ignore now.
    • 1a. Use it as an excuse to increase ballistic missile defense without provoking China.

      • Why do we need to 'increase ballistic missile defense'? China isn't a credible nuclear threat unless some rouge element gets control of them. That's a whole lot less likely than in Russia, India, Pakistan or even possibly Israel. We don't have the ability to defend ourselves from a major ICBM attack - we MIGHT be able to take out a lone ICBM (assuming that it actually managed to get here), but the North Koreans would likely toss the nuke at the DMZ or South Korea. If they hit Seoul people would notice,

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          The great circle course form NK down into the western US has it's descent stage near Alaska. That's why they are placed there - not to defend Anchorage itself.

    • Re:What a farce (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @11:04PM (#43194907)

      Except that's not what they did this time. This time they:

      1. Provoked
      2. Talked
      3. We agreed to cough up food aid
      4. They launched a long-range missile and blew up a nuke, BEFORE the food aid was delivered. This prompted us to . . .
      5. Cancel the food aid
      6. They escalate the rhetoric
      7. ????

      This is why normally sober analysts are a bit worried. This is breaking the script.

  • It is time to stop appeasing the North Koreans and take action. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have contributed many $100s of billions to our debt, the result of wars of attrition. Our current response to North Korea continues this pattern and actually validates the North Korean threat. This has got to stop.

    A country should be able to feed its people. If it cannot then it is a failed country. North Korea cannot feed its people, at least it seems as such.

    Here are some steps I would recommend.

    Step #1: D

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 16, 2013 @01:17PM (#43191881)

      The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have contributed many $100s of billions to our debt,

      That's a low estimate, by a few factors. Think trillions.

    • by Fastolfe (1470)

      Step #1: Discontinue all aid until nuclear observers are allowed into the country and can operate freely (with NK observation but no interference). No aid without compliance, the blood and death is on those causing the problems, not on those who would try to help.

      I think plenty of people would disagree on that last part. North Korea isn't self-sufficient when it comes to food (never having fully recovered from the famine [wikipedia.org] after the Soviet Union collapsed). Stopping food aid would directly result in millions of deaths.

      The North Korean government cares more about being in power than they do about feeding their own people. They've demonstrated that repeatedly. Giving the world yet another example by stopping food aid and blaming the regime won't change anything. Fu

    • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @03:57PM (#43192837)

      It is time to stop appeasing the North Koreans and take action. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have contributed many $100s of billions to our debt, the result of wars of attrition. Our current response to North Korea continues this pattern and actually validates the North Korean threat. This has got to stop.

      Unlike Iraq or Afghanistan, NK is capable of killing hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people today. Seoul has a population of 10 million and is within firing range of plain old ordnance from NK. They don't need nukes, they've already got one of our biggest allies as a hostage.

      None of your unilateralist fantasies are going to work given the current situation.

  • by jlowery (47102) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @01:06PM (#43191807)

    It just seems like another excuse to prop up our bloated military-industrial complex. Do they really think NK will launch a missile our way, or is this just another example of security theater?

    • Do they really think NK will launch a missile our way, or is this just another example of security theater?

      I imagine it is just another imaginary threat which is a perfect excuse to ramp up defence spending.

      US officials during the Cold War would frequently state that the USSR had a massive advantage over the US in ballistic missles, even though in reality the US had thousands more. It was simply a fabrication in order to justify more and more military spending.

      Nothing surprises me with US defence spending any more.

      • US officials during the Cold War would frequently state that the USSR had a massive advantage over the US in ballistic missles, even though in reality the US had thousands more.

        Considering that we never had as many as two thousand ballistic missiles of all kinds (ICBM/SLBM), I consider it very unlikely that we had "thousands more" than the Soviets.

        Note that with 2000 ballistic missiles, the Soviets would have had to have ZERO for us to have "thousands more"....

    • It just seems like another excuse to prop up our bloated military-industrial complex.

      A limited missile defense system can be cost effective under certain circumstances. The Israeli Iron Dome system, for example, provided effective protection against ballistic rocket attacks during the recent conflict. Israel is a nation of limited resources which takes a practical and pragmatic view of its defense spending. If Israel can demonstrate a practical and effective missile defense system then I would argue that a similar system can also be a practical and worthwhile expenditure for the defense of

    • by onyxruby (118189)

      A quick google search will find many examples of the North Koreans making unprovoked attacks that kill people in an attempt to show off national pride. They have a history of acting irrationally and being perfectly willing to sacrifice their people in order to achieve their leaderships goals.

      They also have the most heavily armed border in the world with a significant number of troops and one of the worlds largest and most fanatic armies. They have artillery pre-positioned and in the range of Seoul that they

    • by cdrudge (68377)

      What's the cost of one nuclear missile that makes it way to Honolulu, Anchorage, Seattle, San Francisco, or LA?

      Is it likely to happen? No. Could it happen? Yes.

  • Whatever... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bartles (1198017) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @01:06PM (#43191811)
    So, the Obama administration scrapped the prior administration's plans to increase the number of interceptors from 30 to 44 at Ft Greely, AK in 2009. Now the Administration plans to increase the number of interceptors from 30 to 44 at Ft Greely, AK. By 2017. Idiots.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That's how the executive branch works. Undo whatever minor things the last administration did to make them look bad. Then, and only then, decide if what they were doing was a good idea. If it is, then re-brand and redeploy in the current administration's name at the nearest convenience.

    • by argStyopa (232550)

      It's almost like it was scripted.

      Under Republican President:
      Interceptors deployed: +1 GOP, -1 Democrats
      Interceptors canceled: -1 GOP, +1 Democrats

      Under Democrat President:
      Interceptors deployed: -1 GOP, +1 Democrats
      Pretty much every step: +1000 Military Industrial Complex

  • For a billion dollars, couldn't they just fly over North Korea and blow their military and government institutions to the stone age? Hell, could probably be done for a lot less. Instead of waiting for Kim Jong Crazy the 2nd to try and attack North America, why not just stop him before he has a chance.
    • One word: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by smi.james.th (1706780)
      China. They're big allies of North Korea, and I don't think they'd take kindly to America having significant military presence right there.
    • by Fastolfe (1470)

      The DPRK has nuclear weapons and 1.1M soldiers in active duty, who have been slowly massing along the border to South Korea for years. How would you protect South Korea in the process? Keep in mind that DPRK has another 8.2M soldiers in reserve (~38% of the DPRK population is active or reserve duty).

      With an active war on North Korean soil, people are going to be fleeing in droves, mostly into China. China isn't going to like that. Possibly, they may not even let them in. How many refugees will die for

  • Heh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by X.25 (255792) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @01:12PM (#43191843)

    ...warn Beijing that it must restrain its ally or face an expanding American military focus on Asia.

    I wonder if they'll be borrowing money from China in order to support that expansion :)

  • by mrstrano (1381875) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @01:13PM (#43191847) Homepage

    Will 'resolve' the situation themselves to prevent South Korea, USA and other countries to have to intervene when North Korea goes to far. They would be able to establish a government friendly to China and preserve their interests in the region. Also, they would be able to show their military power in a war every other nation will find just.

  • by jamesl (106902)

    And the US is doing this why? Is South Korea broke? Doesn't Japan have a national defense force? China is in pretty good shape militarily.

    In fact Xi Jinping could pick up the phone and tell Kim Jong-Un to put his missiles away and stop being a jerk. Assuming they have working phones in North Korea.

    • China will dare not negotiate with N.Korea now. They think they have political leverage until the moment Un tells them to fuck off. That when the political blame game and infighting starts inside the CCP. The last thing China wants to expose is anything short of political unity within the rank and file.

      Old Yeller has now gone full rabid and foaming at the mouth. Someone has to put that dog down. Either it will be China, or the US. But someone must pickup the gun and finish the job.

    • by Fastolfe (1470)

      China has indeed done that. It seems to me that The Kim regime knows it's not going to survive forever. Its large military, nuclear capabilities, and "crazy" persona are likely there entirely to keep the regime in power as long as possible. The reason China wants the DPRK left alone is because when the regime does collapse, China is going to be the one left picking up the pieces and dealing with North Korean refugees (and quite possibly an American military presence right on their border). IMO, the righ

  • So, somewhere around ten times more accurate than most other munitions then?

  • by wisebabo (638845) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @02:14PM (#43192233) Journal

    Or the system as a whole?

    If the success rate is per interceptor, meaning that they have several chances to hit a warhead by using several interceptors then 50 percent isn't too bad. Fifty percent success (or failure) means that shooting say five interceptors at each warhead will result in a 95 percent chance of shooting it down, not perfect but certainly enough to make Kim Jung-Un realize he probably isn't going to inflict ANY damage with a suicidal nuclear attack. NK probably wouldn't be able to get off more than a few before the launch sites and command bunkers were nuked (can you say close to shore submarine based missiles on depressed trajectories?).

    Of course if the success rate is for the system as a whole (doubtful) for example due to some basic limitation of the targeting radars, then adding more interceptors isn't going to deter Mr. Kim. He probably realizes that his attack is a long shot (ha ha) anyway and having 50 percent odds on taking out, say San Francisco is pretty good. So let's hope that the system is capable of targeting multiple interceptors at a single warhead so the odds are in our favor.

    The best scenario is for to add more layers to make a multilayer defense. In addition to the Patriot missile batteries in South Korea and the Aegis missile cruisers offshore (can either of their missiles overtake an ascending ICBM launched hundreds of miles away?) whatever happened to the laser equipped 747s?

    Now if Kim Jung-Un really wanted to make the U.S. worried, he should use his much more powerful (but extremely vulnerable and time consuming to launch) liquid fueled rockets to put a disguised nuke INTO ORBIT. Not only would it completely bypass the ABM defenses that are only protecting the U.S. from direct trajectories but it would reduce the warning time from 30 minutes to maybe 5 (or zero if an EMP blast was the goal). The only thing the U.S. could do would be to pre-emptively knock down EVERY satellite put up by NK which while easily doable, would really raise tensions. Of course NK would be violating the 1967 treaty banning weapons (especially nukes!) in Outer Space which is probably the only thing that kept us from accidental thermonuclear war but NK doesn't seem to pay to much attention to treaties.

    So if NK starts orbiting largish satellites and testing re-entry vehicles, be afraid.

    One side effect of all this is that the improvements in ABM systems is forcing China to upgrade its ICBM force. Unlike the Russians, the Chinese only had a few hundred (?) ICBMs capable of reaching the U.S. and no subs or bombers. They worried that if the shit REALLY hit the fan, the U.S. could launch a first strike taking out most of their missiles (not to mention iPhone production). The few surviving missiles would not make it through even the modest shield that is being built and thus the U.S. woud survive unscathed. So the Chinese are following the Russian model of bolstering their ICBM forces so that even after a first strike they would be able to overwhelm the limited ABM defenses in place.

    This fear of an enhanced ABM system is one reason why China is (trying to) keep Mr. Kim from building ICBMs. Not to mention the fear that South Korea and Japan and possibly Taiwan(!!!) will decide they need a nuclear deterrent against North Korea. That would really complicate China's desire to become THE power in Asia (and make reunification with Taiwan much more perilous).

    • by wisebabo (638845) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @04:10PM (#43192935) Journal

      After thinking over my previous (long) post a little, it occurred to me that the X-37 was probably designed with NK in mind.

      For those of you not familiar with it, it is a extremely flexible winged spacecraft (looks like a mini-shuttle) operated by the Air Force. By extremely flexible I mean it can be launched into any orbit (including polar ones), has demonstrated orbital maneuvering capability, (very) long life in space, and considerable cross-range capability. And it can return objects from space with its cargo bay! It's too small to retrieve large commercial satellites (but not too small to retrieve a warhead) and can gently land on a runway with rubber tires not skids. It is not man-rated and does not have a docking port or any other features that would make it useful as a rescue vehicle.

      It was rumored that it was sent up to spy on the Chinese space station but for a variety of reasons, not least of which was that the Chinese would see it coming and would be pissed, that was dismissed.

      So when Mr. Kim starts launching more reliable "satellites" (the first one failed after achieving orbit), I imagine the U.S. will send up one of these with a good camera and radiation detectors to give it a close inspection. Maybe it'll even come into physical contact and probe it with robotic arms! If it really looks suspicious, perhaps it will stow it on board and retun it, presumably to Guantanamo bay (that way if there's a nuke on board it won't go off on U.S. soil). (Perhaps that's why it's a WINGED re-entry vehicle, in addition to giving it cross range capability, I'd imagine the g-forces would be less not to mention no annoying "thump" when it splashes down or lands).

      Unlike China, it is highly unlikely that NK has developed space based radar that could detect something sneaking up on its "Satellite" from ANY direction. (Also, here's a question, does anyone know if the X-37 is stealthed?). In addition, even if the NK satellite did detect the X-37, it couldn't easily communicate that fact to the ground; I'd bet NK has only the most rudimentary communications and tracking support, probably limited to only when it's passing over NK. I'd even doubt their few "friends" in the world (China? Iran?) would be willing to help, especially if the North Koreans were using it as a cover for putting nukes in orbit! (That's not something you want to be associated with). So it's basically blind and dumb for most of its orbit, a sitting duck for the X-37.

      If the next time NK puts a working satellite in orbit the U.S. follows with a launch of the X-37 remember: you read it here first!

  • Save money (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hawguy (1600213)

    Since they don't really work, we could save $999M by paying some Hollywood set designers deploy something that just looks like a ballistic missile defense system. They could hire some extras to protest the installations for greater authenticity.

  • by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @02:56PM (#43192441)

    The Democrats have been saying for the past 30 years would not work?

    "The report to this bill specifically notes the possible threat from the North Korean Taepo Dong II missile, which the report claims may have the range to hit Alaska. Since this weapon is in development, we do not in fact know that this missile will be capable of that range. But with North Korea in such dire straits economically and the growing possibility of its opening, with reunification with the south increasingly likely, should we spend billions on a missile defense system that probably won't work to counter a threat that may never exist?" - John Kerry

    http://www.fas.org/spp/starwars/congress/1995/s950804f.htm [fas.org]

    • In 1995 it wasn't just Democrats saying it won't work.

      "1995 -- April 12 U.S. NAVY UPPER-TIER COMPLIANCE REPORT A U.S. Department of Defense ABM Treaty compliance report to Congress concludes that, because the system "does not have capabilities to counter strategic ballistic missiles" and assuming it will not be "tested in an ABM mode," deployment of the Navy's upper-tier missile defense system would be permitted under the ABM Treaty."

    • The Democrats have been saying for the past 30 years would not work?

      I'm no expert, but my money will be on it having advanced a little since 1983.

  • I wouldn't be surprised if there are a few subs or something of the sort nearby capable of launching a bit more than interceptors...

  • by fa2k (881632) <pmbjornstad&gmail,com> on Saturday March 16, 2013 @03:12PM (#43192549)

    This is a purely defensive installation, and the cost isn't huge by military proportions. No need to even name an enemy. In fact, they could probably install three layers of this system for $3 billion and have 87 % success rate (if the probability of success does not depend on the trajectory). The chance for a nuclear strike is small, but nukes are a "holy grail" for all small totalitarian regimes, of which there are a couple in east Asia, and it's better to not be taken by surprise.

  • "They said it is also meant to show South Korea and Japan that the United States is willing to commit resources to deterring the North and, at the same time, warn Beijing that it must restrain its ally or face an expanding American military focus on Asia."

    Because America has such a great track record with getting into wars in the Far East. Better get Britain ready to save them *again*...

    • A missile defence system on the pacific coast of the United States is going to do nothing to help South Korea or Japan.

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